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  1. What to avoid during the job interview

    March 4, 2015 by Jenna

    When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

    1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

    To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

    2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

    3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

    4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

    If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

    5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

    6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

     7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

    8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

    What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?


  2. Leadership – Be Prepared To Make The Tough Decisions

    May 20, 2014 by Jenna

    We can all be quite opinionated when it comes to leaders making decisions on behalf of their organisation, state or country. We are privileged to have people who are prepared to make those big decisions for us. But sometimes we can be skeptical and even cynical to those choices made for us. However, what would you do if you were in that situation? What if you were the one who had to make the tough decisions?

    A tough decision may be reacting to something that you are not exactly comfortable with for the sake of your business continuity. At times costs have to be cut, an employee may have to be let go and you will have to deal with a customer complaint.

    As a leader, you have the authority to make these decisions and to do what is best. However, if you are the type of person who spends their time dwelling over the situation for too long or putting off the difficult task until the result becomes worse, you may need to reconsider taking on this position of authority.

    How do great leaders make tough decisions? While researching this topic I found an interesting article from an American blogger Michael Hyatt, who watched an interview series on President George W Bush. He put together 5 important points on leadership lessons and decision making:

    1. You will make mistakes—it’s inevitable. To think that you are going to lead without making mistakes results in procrastination—something no leader can afford, especially in a crisis. This simply comes with the territory.
    2. You must surround yourself with trusted advisors. You can’t research every aspect of important decisions yourself. At some point you have to depend on the expertise of others. Ultimately, your leadership will stand or fall based on the quality of the advice you receive.
    3. You must make decisions with the information available. For leaders, the point of absolute certainty never comes. You will inevitably have to make the call based on the information you have. While you may be unsure, you must act. Pundits may criticise you later, but they have the benefit of hindsight. Leaders don’t have this luxury and must do the best they can with what they have available.
    4. You must take personal responsibility for the outcomes. If you make a mistake, you must own it—even if your advisors gave you bad information. And even if you were acting with the most noble of intentions. If you make a good decision leading to a good outcome, you must give your advisors and others the credit. If you make a bad decision leading to a bad outcome, you alone must take the blame.
    5. You must ignore public opinion when it gets in the way of principle. Chasing popularity is like chasing a vapour. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, you have to make decisions based on principle and let the chips fall where they may.

    Leadership isn’t easy, but difficult decisions are necessary and leaders are required to act. Even if you are not in a leadership role, it is important that you keep an open mind, respect the decisions of management and team leader for both you as an employee and for your organisation. After all, would you really do things differently if you were in that situation?

    What difficult decisions have you had to make for your organisation? What did you learn from these choices?


  3. Who should pay for the company Christmas function?

    September 27, 2011 by Jenna

    I broke my toe at a long-ago Christmas function. I would like to immediately emphasise (mainly because my boss will read this) that it was not whilst working here. The thing is, I don’t remember actually doing it, which made it all the more startling when I awoke the next day with a purple toe. 

    The point is: had the company I was working for at the time spent less or even nothing on the Christmas party, and I had been required to pay for my own Christmas cheer, I may not have imbibed it with such abandon, hence no broken toe. 

    However, because I am now a “responsible adult”, I do accept that it is my responsibility to curb my enthusiasm re free drinks and I am one of the 87% who responded with a YES to last week’s online poll question: “Should employers fund the company Christmas function.” 

    Of course, this does mean that 13% thought they shouldn’t. Interesting. “Why?” I hear you asking in disbelief. 

    Well, one response that I thought was perhaps fair enough was “a community-funded organisation should not spend community money on a Christmas party.” There are some things that are more important to spend money on than bad wine and silly hats. 

    And the other respondents in this group basically all said that the cost should be shared between employers and employees. 

    Hmmm … 

    Overwhelmingly, though, the issue of the company paying for the Christmas party boiled down to one thing: staff morale

    Again and again, respondents were adamant that the “return on investment” was something companies could not ignore:

    – “Employers receive massive returns re staff morale for a relatively small outlay.”

    – “This is a gift that doesn’t cost a company much, but is hugely valued by employees. More to the point, if it isn’t funded, the employer loses much more respect from staff than the little monetary saving achieved.”

    – “The Christmas function is a way in which a Company thanks their staff, where titles are dropped and people are people. Staff members look forward to this event all year and as many companies do not give bonuses, a party is a way to reward hard work.”

    – “It is an opportunity for the employer to show openly how much they value their employees. I don’t think any employer wants to be labelled a ‘scrooge’“.  

    So, morale is the moral of the story. Employers take note! Can you afford not to lay on some cheese and bickies and a slab of beer for your cherished workers this Christmas?

    Have you ever been offered a great job with a company which required staff to wear a really bad uniform? Did you still take the job? Tell us in our latest online poll and stay tuned for the results in next week’s ChallengeBlog post …

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